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20 most recent entries

Poster:penpusher
Date:2014-03-04 09:32
Subject:Happy "War Day," Ev'rybody!
Security:Public

If Star Wars day is May the 4th (be with you), we can certainly take a moment and remember that today, March Fourth, doubles as a military command. it really should be "War Day" or "Military Aggression Day" or something like that, to honor all of the acts of conflict nations have waged against each other throughout history.

But saying it that way really diminishes the impact of how innocent people, just trying to live their lives as best they can, under a system they didn't create, might be killed because the policies of their government, of which they may not agree, or might even be vehemently standing against, went against the policies of a different government or different group of people.

Aggression is built into the human form. You can see it in two year olds. It's there. I want it all, and I want it all now! Power, prestige, taking what you want. It's all focused on self, and is all a part of the process of war. It is a little bit obvious when you see that the United States Military is bigger than the next largest 13 nations' militaries, combined!

It comes back to the concept of...Collapse )

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2014-02-24 11:01
Subject:Late Night Tonight
Security:Public

It seems like only a week ago I was talking about a brand new late night talk show, and here I am discussing another one, on NBC no less, seven days later!

Seth Meyers, the longest-tenured anchor at the "Weekend Update" desk on SNL has parlayed that role into becoming the next host of NBC's "Late Night" franchise.

"Late Night with Seth Meyers" is a bit of a mystery, at least to me. Meyers got to crack wise and be really, really snarky in his role at the "WU" desk, but is he going to tone that down or play it up when he's on five nights a week?

And there's the issue of celebrity guests. For the first time in television history, you have back to back, hour long chat fests in late night, both taped from the same location!* 30 Rockefeller Center is going to be like the Hubble telescope: you're going to see a lot of stars there!

(*note that when "Last Call with Carson Daly" briefly filmed in 30 Rock, it was a 30 minute show, and usually only had one guest and one musical performance, until it eventually moved to NBC Burbank)

But that brings up the problem...Collapse )

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2014-02-17 11:11
Subject:Tonight Tonight
Security:Public

This evening, the eyes of late night viewers are going to be on NBC as the Brand New Tonight Show with its new host, Jimmy Fallon, is unveiled at, ironically enough, Midnight (or some time after Midnight if Olympics coverage goes long). A "Midnight" starting Tonight Show was why Conan O'Brien chose to step down, rather than push the show back from its 11:35pm ET start time to allow Jay Leno back into Late Night after Leno's mediocre prime time program flopped.

But this is a coup for Fallon, and it's a coup on a lot of different levels. Where Conan had to uproot his entire show and staff from New York to Universal Studios Hollywood in order to take that job, Jimmy is having the program return to NYC for him and is inserting the word "Starring" back into the title for the first time since Johnny Carson was ruling the roost. O'Brien must be wondering why that couldn't have happened for him, especially since Executive Producer Lorne Michaels was in charge of both Conan's and Jimmy's iterations of "Late Night with..."

If you got to see my series of posts...Collapse )

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2012-10-31 11:11
Subject:Addams v. Munsters!!!!!
Security:Public

It's time to finally, at long last, do a full post on the two ghoulish families that have been a part of Television history since 1964. But this famed rivalry has been going on since their programs debuted. Hardly anything new here. It's a battle of who really is the superior in the Gruesome Tee Vee Interior!



Two Typical American FamiliesCollapse )

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2012-09-17 05:36
Subject:The WTF Episode of "Mister Ed"
Security:Public

Maybe this was the concept that started it all. It was October, 1961, and CBS picked up a new syndicated television series that had been running for several months called "Mister Ed."



A horse is a horse, of course, of course...Collapse )

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2012-08-25 03:43
Subject:Neil Armstrong
Security:Public

Clearly my impression of what space travel was had been influenced by several factors as I grew up, most of them via Science Fiction novels and television shows. But when it came to NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, there was a sitcom called "I Dream of Jeannie."

It was pretty ridiculous to think that a straight arrow like the legendary "Original 7" space riders would find a genie in a bottle when their spacecraft had to come back to earth. But I bought into the whole concept, even as Captain, then Major Nelson was pretty much stuck on the planet, even though with a genie, he could have gone to Pluto and back in the blink of two eyes.

But there was also the history of the manned space missions: Mercury, Gemini and then Apollo, set into motion by John F. Kennedy promising to land a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth.

That very first man was Neil Armstrong, who was the commander of Apollo 11, with his two partners, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and the forgotten man who circled the moon while Armstrong and Aldrin collected rocks, Michael Collins.

And now, Neil Armstrong is first again, first of that storied crew of three to leave the planet and soar far out into the Universe.

RIP, Neil Armstrong.

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2012-04-19 03:08
Subject:Richard Wagstaff Clark
Security:Public

By now anyone who would have cared to know is aware that Dick Clark died yesterday. He was 82 which was a relatively long life, especially in the areas that he was most famous for moving in and around: that of music and television.

The thing that fascinated me about him was how he could always mold himself into whatever he needed to be at whatever job he was doing. I studied him in person for tapings of the Pyramid show, which filmed off Broadway at a little TV studio near the Ed Sullivan Theater. Clark would host the program and I was always impressed by how he would know when to ratchet up the tension, to good-naturedly rib a celebrity, focus and calm the contestants as they played, and had fun the whole while.

He was also brilliant at interviewing and that talent was apparent on "American Bandstand." He, very much like Johnny Carson, could chat with anyone, be they kids from the audience ready to "Rate A Record," some fledgling band trying to make it or with the bona fide superstars that he spoke with on the show or at The Golden Globes, one of the two award shows he produced, along with the American Music Awards.

There was always a kind of down-to-earth and homespun sensibility about him. This was a guy you could sit on the back porch and have a Dr. Pepper with, maybe play a game of checkers or listen to a baseball game on the radio. I suspect he would never admit which team he wanted to win!

And then there were all those New Year's Eves. I can remember Guy Lombardo being on the television, which was the same thing as having Lawrence Welk play your party. But then Dick Clark came along to save us! Actual music we liked and wanted to hear! Lombardo quickly faded away once Dick Clark arrived!

Looking at it now, Lombardo's exit from the New Year's scene was a bit more dignified than Dick's, unfortunately. It was painful these past several years to watch one of the most successful voices in television history struggle to count from 10 to zero.

On the other hand, maybe we should have more people like Dick visible on screen, to call attention to these issues, to remind people that everything on television isn't perfection. In that sense, it was good we had those last few visits. Michael J. Fox. Muhammad Ali. The Muscular Dystrophy telethon. The Special Olympics. Sometimes we need reminders how important people are and how fragile they are. Life is rarely as neat as it is depicted on television.

As my little tribute, here's his rarely heard (and borderline propaganda) recording from 45 years ago.... yours to listen to or download, courtesy of our friends at WFMU!

RIP, Dick Clark.

Dick Clark - "An Open Letter to The Older Generation"

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2012-04-02 04:16
Subject:MDNA
Security:Public

I need to examine the lastest release from Madonna, since she's kind of the dregs of the 1980s still recording. Michael and Whitney are gone. Prince has taken a sharp left turn in his musical form. Really the only other performer from the era still doing anything relevant is Weird Al Yankovic!

Madonna's new album, if you somehow have been trapped in a Hunger Games line/theater for the past several months, is called MDNA. And there are some surprising things about it.



No Borderline CallCollapse )

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2012-02-20 07:56
Subject:John Glenn's 50th
Security:Public

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of John Glenn's historic Friendship 7 voyage, the first United States resident to orbit the earth.

In celebration of this landmark event in history, NASA presents this neat look back:

http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/glenn50/

If you have a couple of minutes, it's a fun thing to examine.

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2012-01-20 10:22
Subject:How To Deal With Telemarketers and Have Both You and Them Feel Good About It!
Security:Public

Telemarketing. The word conjures up middle aged men in cheap suits and hairpieces, constantly dialing from their cubicles and trying to get you to part with your money for any number of illegitimate reasons! You simply wish these creeps would go away, forever!



They are not going away.

Not Going.Collapse )

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2011-12-16 01:57
Subject:"The Muppets"
Security:Public

I guess I should write a review of "The Muppets," since, like, well, you know, I've actually had the pleasure of being Kermit professionally if only for a day, and I did try my hand at writing a Muppet script several years ago, to no real success. I guess it's not too late to dust it off and try again. But, that's another story for a different day. Right now, there's the one playing in theaters...

It's time to play the music... unless you haven't seen and don't want to be spoiledCollapse )

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2011-11-30 11:02
Subject:The WTF Episode of "Batman"
Security:Public

Continuing through the history of television series, I have to note the episode of one of my all-time favorite programs, “Batman," that gives the highest percentage of WTF.




Another Glorious Day in Gotham City!Collapse )

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2011-11-23 04:29
Subject:The WTF Episode of "The Partridge Family"
Security:Public

Continuing with the WTF, We now have an episode from that classic sitcom, “The Partridge Family.”



Just as a brief reminder, the "WTF Episode" is designed to demonstrate a particular case that is just so odd and twisted, it doesn't seem to be rational in the context of the series as a whole.

A part of the ABC Television lineup from the Fall of 1970 to the Spring of 1974, "The Partridge Family" was inspired by the real life story of The Cowsills, a musical family that had a series of minor hits in the mid to late 1960s, and who went on to perform the title track from another ABC series from that era, “Love, American Style,” (probably as a make-good on the fact that the network basically stole their story and recast the show with actors, rather than having the Cowsills play the parts themselves).

Much like “Bachelor Father,” “The Partridge Family” has a few classic TV tropes.



A deceased parent, in this case, Mr. Partridge, left Shirley Partridge (Oscar Winner, Shirley Jones) widowed and with her five way too precious kids: eldest Keith (David Cassidy, Shirley’s real life stepson), Laurie (Susan Dey), Danny (Danny Bonaduce), Chris (Jeremy Gelbwaks in season 1; Brian Forster, thereafter), and little Tracy (Suzanne Crough). But they formed a musical group, got their mom to sing along and became national hits, much to the delight of their manager Reuben Kincaid (Dave Madden)!

Stories tended to follow one of three separate scenarios: the family on their tours to various (and quite honestly, questionable) gigs, often at places like amusement parks, ski lodges, street festivals or other “non-headline” venues; some venture, ploy or plot schemed up by Danny that entangled the rest of the Partridges in some way, designed to make money but typically did not; or an episode with personal issues that one particular sibling was having in their lives. And it’s this third style of story drawn from the series’ second season that I have selected for this WTF episode, titled “The Partridge Papers.”

The focus of this tale is Laurie, who is trying to make sense of high school at this point.




C'mon Get Happy!Collapse )

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2011-11-16 02:30
Subject:The WTF Episode of "Bachelor Father"
Security:Public

I have been meaning to start another series on Television for awhile, and this seems like one that will have a very long run. For lack of a better name, I'm titling it "The WTF Episode of..." and I plan to present these on a fairly regular basis, with appropriate background and info about the series generally. It's one particular episode of a series that is just so hard to figure, so unbelievable for some reason or reasons that you just can't understand how it happened.

I wanted to begin with this choice because it is chock full of WTF, but just in case you aren't familiar with the program, here's some background on "Bachelor Father."



John Forsythe played a wealthy and successful Beverly Hills attorney named Bentley Gregg, who is the caretaker of his niece, Kelly, (played by Noreen Corcoran) after her parents were killed in an automobile accident. This point is not played up very much, as the opening credits of the program in many of its seasons typically showed Forsythe at the wheel of his car, shuttling Kelly from school back to their modest digs, presumably near what would become the Clampett estate shortly, with their "houseboy" (their term, not mine) Peter, played by Sammee Tong.



Plots of the program generally centered on Bentley's (alleged) search for true love, and how Kelly's life either enhanced or inhibited said search and often Bentley's ability to juggle all of the women in his romantic life (or more aptly, how he couldn't). Other plotlines focused on Peter's desire to become a successful businessman, like his boss, or how having a "daughter" instead of a "son" managed to make things more challenging/less fun for Bentley.

This series is unique for one distinctive reason: it aired in prime time on all of the "Big Three" networks during its run! The pilot (titled "A New Girl In His Life") aired on "General Electric Theater" on CBS which then ran the series from Autumn, 1957 through Spring, 1959. The program moved to NBC that Autumn where it had another two year run from 1959 through Spring, 1961. And it concluded with a final season on ABC from 1961-62.



Now, the program was actually pretty innocuous and somewhat charming and amusing for what it was worth; this despite the obvious and inappropriate stereotypes of Chinese people, women and their place in society in the late 1950s and early 1960s and male interests/behavior during that time frame.

But I want to present an episode that really is unique. The title of the ep is "Where There's a Will."

So let's begin.Collapse )

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2011-04-17 12:15
Subject:Television - Episode Four: TV's Social Change Moment
Security:Public

Previously, On Television: We gave a gaze towards the competitive nature that was being presented via TV, the Cold War, the racial tensions, the generational differences that had suddenly become fodder for mass media, and how television reacted by creating a lot of diversionary programming designed to make people forget the horrors of the wars in Vietnam and on the streets of nearly every ghetto in the country. This time, we’ll look at the crucial moment when television finally grew up.

A Televised Tragic AdolescenceCollapse )

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2011-04-12 09:11
Subject:50 Years of Outer Space and Inner Space
Security:Public

Google is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Human Spaceflight with a Google Doodle today:




and it's animated! (just linked the youtube vid for the permanent record)



Certainly this date and this anniversary is a major milestone in the human story, but some doofus had to say:

"Google's frequent commemoration of the achievements of communists is appalling."

Now, I know this guy was a troll, but it makes me wonder just how many people are out there thinking like that. And that's just so disturbing to me. When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, he didn't say That's one small step for an American man, or a Capitalist man. That was an event that the whole world shared, together.

Since we are apparently out of the Space biz at this point... maybe it's time to really start exploring the inner space of our minds and thoughts. Apparently, at least for some, the vacuum and vastness of the space between their ears equals certain parts of our very own solar system.

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2011-04-09 13:36
Subject:Television - Episode Three: Us v. Them
Security:Public

Previously, on Television: We explored the concept of the “Television Code” and how it helped make the TV environs safer for advertisers. We examined the Mass Marketing of television and the early programs designed to encourage people to buy a set. And we looked at these early programs to examine just how the networks positioned themselves to gain viewers into the 1950s. This time, we’ll exit the Eisenhower years, and head towards a new, immensely larger and crazier world, and beyond.

The Dawn of the Space AgeCollapse )

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2011-03-27 02:41
Subject:Television - Episode Two: The Early Years
Security:Public

Previously, on Television: We covered the most important facts about television – that it is, as its first and most important role, an advertising delivery service; that the technology of the device itself sometimes overshadowed the actual programming and forced viewers to purchase more and more televisions to keep up with the tech changes and because of the sponsors, TV is not able to properly reflect our society as it must cater to the companies that buy commercial time. Next, we will look at the early part of the mass hysteria that brought the medium into everyone’s lives.

Keeping It Clean So the Ads Can Be SeenCollapse )

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2011-03-19 05:47
Subject:Television - Episode One: An Overview
Security:Public

I started writing a series of articles about the history of television for another website.

Since I no longer do anything for that site, I am now posting the rest of them where they belong, and that's here.

So, I'll start at the beginning and work my way towards what I was intending to do, which is give a different sort of portrait of TV, and try to make some sense about how the combined history of that medium intertwines with that of our nation and ultimately ourselves.

ON THE AIRCollapse )

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Poster:penpusher
Date:2011-01-11 03:29
Subject:A Long Story From Childhood About A Shakespearean Song You Don't Know
Security:Public

You probably won't care about this, but maybe you will.Collapse )

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